Italian seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that gives your food an Italian flavor. It’s usually made with basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.
Italian seasoning is an essential ingredient for many recipes, but it’s not always easy to find a good substitute. If you’re out of it and wondering what to use instead, you’re in luck!
In this article, I’ll talk about the 11 best Italian seasoning substitutes. Some of these include Fresh herbs, Herbes de Provence, Herbes de la garrigue, Dried basil and Oregano, Creole Seasoning, Greek Seasoning, and Homemade Italian seasoning with different ingredients.
Keep reading as I explain how you can swap these handy ingredients in place of Italian seasoning or better – prepare it yourself at home by mixing a few key herbs.
- What’s In Italian Seasoning?
- 11 Best Italian Seasoning Substitutes
- 1. Homemade Italian Seasoning
- 2. Fresh Herbs
- 3. Herbes de Provence
- 4. Herbes de la Garrigue
- 5. Dried Basil and Oregano
- 6. Dried Basil, Oregano, and Thyme
- 7. Creole Seasoning
- 8. Greek Seasoning
- 9. Homemade Italian Seasoning with Sage
- 10. Homemade Italian Seasoning with Fennel Seeds
- 11. Homemade Italian Seasoning with Black Pepper
- What Does Italian Seasoning Taste Like?
- Is Oregano the Same as Italian Seasoning?
- Can I Use Italian Dressing Instead of Italian Seasoning?
- What Is the Difference Between Italian Herbs and Italian Seasoning?
- Final Words
What’s In Italian Seasoning?
Essentially, there are 5 key ingredients used in Italian seasoning:
- Oregano: A member of the mint family, oregano has a strong flavor that is slightly bitter with undertones of lemon.
- Basil: It adds a very familiar Italian flavor and compliments oregano well.
- Thyme: Many recipes wouldn’t be complete without this herb. It’s a warm herb that provides a lemony scent when dried.
- Rosemary: This herb is evergreen. It’s often used for its piney scent and flavor.
- Marjoram: This herb has a peppery yet sweet flavor. It’s very closely related to oregano and works well in recipes such as spaghetti sauce.
While Italian seasoning is the best-known blend of these herbs, you’ll find that some brands also add salt, garlic powder, sage, chili flakes, and bay leaves to the mix.
11 Best Italian Seasoning Substitutes
If you’re preparing a recipe that calls for Italian seasoning but don’t have any, use these handy substitutes.
1. Homemade Italian Seasoning
The best way to substitute Italian seasoning is to make it yourself at home.
Homemade Italian seasoning is actually super easy to make. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon, crumbled dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons, crumbled dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
Put all these ingredients in a blender and blend them until you get a perfect mixture. It should give you about 3 tablespoons of homemade Italian seasoning.
If you want to match the taste of your favorite store-bought brand, check its label and add salt, chili flakes, garlic powder, etc., accordingly.
2. Fresh Herbs
Like homemade Italian seasoning, using fresh herbs as a substitute for Italian seasoning is another way to enhance the taste of your food and give it that classic Italian flavor.
If you have fresh herbs such as mint, basil, and tarragon available, you can use them in place of Italian seasoning. Replace 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh herbs with 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
I’d recommend adding them at the later stages of cooking for a more distinct flavor.
3. Herbes de Provence
If you love the classic taste of Italian seasoning but don’t have fresh herbs or ingredients for homemade seasonings on hand, try using Herbes de Provence.
This is a blend of dried herbs such as thyme, savory, marjoram, basil, and lavender blossoms. Herbes de Provence is popularly used in Provençal cooking, which is similar to Italian cooking. The flavors are generally bright and herbaceous.
If you don’t have this blend in your pantry, make it yourself by mixing together equal parts thyme, savory, marjoram, basil, and lavender blossoms (optional). Then use 1 tablespoon of Herbes de Provence in place of 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
4. Herbes de la Garrigue
Herbes de la Garrigue is another popular blend that can be used as an Italian Seasoning substitute. This herb originated from Southern France contains thyme, savory, lavender, rosemary, oregano, and sometimes sage or fennel seeds.
It also contains two unusual ingredients not found in Italian seasonings – mint and bay leaf – but they don’t overshadow the flavor profile.
You can substitute Herbes de la Garrigue in a 1:1 ratio in most dishes.
5. Dried Basil and Oregano
Many Italian seasoning blends contain dried basil and oregano as base ingredients in addition to other herbs such as thyme, marjoram, garlic powder, etc.
But the primary flavor profile is contributed due to basil and oregano. Basil has a warm, rich flavor that is slightly peppery while oregano has a peppery and bitter flavor.
If you don’t have Italian seasoning in your pantry but have dried basil and oregano leaves, use 1 tablespoon of each to substitute for 1 tablespoon of the Italian seasoning.
6. Dried Basil, Oregano, and Thyme
This is another easy substitute to use in place of Italian seasoning. If you have dried basil, oregano, and thyme leaves on hand, just combine equal parts of all three herbs and use them as a substitute for the Italian seasoning.
Adding thyme will enhance the flavor of your blend as it has a strong, pungent taste.
7. Creole Seasoning
Creole seasoning is typically used to season meats and vegetables such as seafood, chicken, beef stews, jambalaya, gumbo soup, etc., that are commonly found or originated from Louisiana.
It is spicy so if you want to replace it with Italian seasoning, just go easy on the salt and pepper when seasoning your dish.
The best part about using Creole seasonings as a substitute is that you may already have many of the ingredients or can find them easily at your local grocery store.
Creole Seasoning is made of paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, red and black pepper, oregano, thyme (optional), cayenne pepper, and white pepper. Want to skip the spiciness? Do not add cayenne pepper when preparing this blend.
In a 1:1 ratio, substitute Creole Seasoning for Italian Seasoning in most dishes.
8. Greek Seasoning
Greek seasoning is another spicy blend of herbs that can be used as an Italian seasoning substitute.
This all-purpose spice mix contains a variety of dried herbs and spices such as red chili pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme (optional), fennel seeds (optional), coriander seeds (optional).
It offers a minty and peppery flavor with a savory taste. Greek seasoning works well in many dishes including meatballs, lamb kebabs, seafood soups and stews, Bolognese sauce, sausages, and potatoes, etc.
9. Homemade Italian Seasoning with Sage
Write a small article about sage, what it is, and its flavor profile.
Sage has a rich, peppery, and slightly bitter taste which can be quite strong so it should not be used too liberally when seasoning your dishes.
But it gives regular homemade Italian seasonings a peppery taste with traces of mint, lemon, and eucalyptus.
You can add fresh or dried sage to your homemade Italian seasoning recipe to give it a little added oomph while still keeping the same flavor profile.
10. Homemade Italian Seasoning with Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are small, pale brown, or yellowish-brown seeds that have a slightly sweet, aniseed flavor. It is the base of many Italian blends and spices
These pungent little seeds can be used in many dishes such as baked goods (cakes, bread, etc.) and soups. You can also eat them like nuts to add crunch and flavor to salads.
When added, fennel seeds add a sweet and licorice-like taste to a homemade Italian seasoning. Add 1 tablespoon of fennel seed and blend the dried herbs for later use.
11. Homemade Italian Seasoning with Black Pepper
Black Pepper is a common ingredient in many recipes and most of us use it on a daily basis. It’s easy to add more or less, depending on your taste preferences.
It also has the ability to enhance aromas as well as flavors. This makes it an excellent addition to cooked meals that need some extra kick.
When you’re looking for an Italian seasoning substitute that has a strong, spicy, and floral flavor, consider adding black pepper with homemade Italian seasoning.
What Does Italian Seasoning Taste Like?
Italian seasoning has a warm, sweet flavor with hints of basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and sage.
There are several kinds of Italian seasonings out there that vary in ingredients depending on the brand or recipe you use. You may find some that include salt while others don’t, some are sweeter while others have a more robust flavor, etc.
Regardless of the ingredients in your Italian seasoning, it brings an amazing aroma and flavor to many dishes from spaghetti sauce to baked chicken.
Is Oregano the Same as Italian Seasoning?
Oregano is not exactly the same as Italian seasoning. It’s one of the main ingredients used when preparing Italian seasoning that also includes a combination of other herbs such as thyme, marjoram, rosemary, etc.
Can I Use Mixed Herbs Instead of Italian Seasoning?
Yes, you can! Mixed herbs are a good substitute for Italian seasonings because they have the same dried flavor.
An all-purpose mix of dried herbs and spices such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, marjoram is similar to Italian seasoning in terms of taste and aroma.
Can I Use Italian Dressing Instead of Italian Seasoning?
Yes, you can! Italian dressing is another popular ingredient that can be used to season dishes. You’ll need about 3 tablespoons of the dressing per 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
Italian seasoning is a very dry spice blend so using Italian salad dressing helps bring out the flavors better in your final dish. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add anything else.
You can also add more salt, sugar, or even garlic powder if you find that Italian dressing isn’t flavorful enough on its own.
What Is the Difference Between Italian Herbs and Italian Seasoning?
Italian herbs is another name for a common herb blend (thyme, oregano, rosemary) that you can use to season dishes.
Italian seasoning on the other hand is a blend of dried herbs and spices that brings an amazing flavor to recipes such as spaghetti sauce and baked pasta dishes.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a jar of Italian seasoning in the cupboard, there are plenty of substitutes you can use instead. What’s even better is that some of these substitutes can be made with items right from your pantry.
More importantly, you have a list of ingredients to experiment with and find what works best for you. Remember to start small and adjust the ingredients as per your taste.